Ryan Church : Xavier Nady

Mets outfielder Ryan ChurchA few years ago, the Mets made a very unpopular trade during the offseason, trading one outfielder for another. The trade seemed illogical, nonsensical, and a complete mis-read of the market.

After all, the Mets swapped a Gold Glove centerfielder — Mike Cameron — to the Padres in return for an unknown corner outfielder, at a time when it seemed like half the league was in dire need of a centerfielder. Heck, it was the same offseason that journeyman Gary Mathews Jr. netted himself a five-year, $50M payday.

Everyone said that Omar Minaya was an idiot for dealing away the popular Cameron for some guy named Xavier Nady. Nady, after all, wasn’t even a fourth outfielder for San Diego — he was a converted third baseman with a suspect glove and an inability to hit righthanders. The deal was universally panned by every respected news authority.

Somehow, Nady beat out Victor Diaz for the starting rightfield spot. Somehow, Nady hit 14 homers in half a season, and became not only a formidable force in the lineup but also a fan favorite. And when the young slugger was shipped to Pittsburgh for Roberto Hernandez (and some throw-in named Oliver Perez), people were again up in arms over a Nady trade — only this time they said the Mets were crazy for trading him away. Ironically, Omar was correct in the initial Nady deal, as well as the second Nady deal. In Omar We Trust.

Once again, Minaya made a universally unpopular move in a trade of two outfielders. This time, it was Lastings Milledge going to Washington for Ryan Church and Brian Schneider. Never mind that it’s rare for a non-MLB player to fetch two legitimate MLB starters — the Nationals stink, right? Milledge will run and hit circles around both of those scrubs.

Or will he?

Like Nady, Church is coming in as a result of an extremely unpopular deal. Like Nady, Mets fans barely heard of Church before the trade. Like Nady, Church comes in with a reputation as one who can’t hit pitchers who throw from a particular side. Like Nady, the expectations are low — everyone’s expecting this deal to look like a really bad one on Omar Minaya’s resume.

And with a little luck, like Nady, Ryan Church will silence the critics, and be a guy that no one wants to see leave at the trading deadline.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. julie March 31, 2008 at 7:51 am
    Nothing has been right for the Mets since we traded Nady…IMHO.
  2. julie March 31, 2008 at 7:53 am
    We traded Nady and then we had bad luck…
  3. joe March 31, 2008 at 8:35 am
    well … i think the bad luck started immediately before Nady left, with Duaner’s taxi crash.

    maybe all the good luck for the Mets ran out in 1986

  4. The Nady-Cameron Myth « Matt Himelfarb March 31, 2008 at 9:45 pm
    […] a transparent similarity if I ever saw one; at least in the words of my former colleague and, to be fair, well versed analyst Joe Janish, who, while not outright […]
  5. sublimetb July 26, 2008 at 4:55 pm
    The nady-cameron deal was the offseason of 2005, the Gary Jr. $50M deal was the offseason of 2006.
  6. joe July 26, 2008 at 11:55 pm
    Thanks for the correction, sublimetb … this is why I need an editor and fact-checker. My mind is not always reliable.

    2005-2006 offseason did, however, see several free-agent centerfielders sign to above-value contracts, most notably: Johnny Damon, Jay Payton, Kenny Lofton, and Jose Cruz, Jr.